“Well that was unexpected.”
Audrey and Dean watched from across the room as the crowd of college students downed their red cups, after having listened to an elaborate toast from Becca.
“What was?” Audrey asked. It was the first thing Dean had said directly to her since they’d arrived.
“Oh, just that Becca managed to keep a toast to under ten minutes. You ought to hear her at weddings.” Audrey chuckled at him. It was the first party Becca had convinced both her best friend and brother to attend, and Audrey was relieved Dean was there. She’d noticed he was nearly as quiet and socially demure as she was, if not more so, over the past few weeks since she’d first met him. His presence made her feel like she had someone who related to her in a house full of drunken aspiring actors.
“I can’t imagine her toasts being much worse than her lengthy tirades when she feels wronged by a professor.”
“Touché.” Dean gave a small half-grin, something he didn’t seem to do very often. When they first arrived to the party, Becca had paraded Dean around to all the friends who hadn’t yet met him. Audrey endured the same thing freshman year when she and Becca attended their first party together. When Becca offered to get a round of drinks, Audrey declined and Dean was quick to follow suit, seeming relieved to get away from his twin for a bit. This left the two of them sitting side-by-side on a couch, while Becca proposed a toast to the show she and her friends had just begun work on.
Usually Audrey felt the pressure of small talk, either coming up with her own insignificant remarks, or replying to them. People always seemed to want to say something, even if there was nothing that needed to be said. But she didn’t get the same vibe from Dean, so they sat contentedly on the couch in mutual silence as the music thumped and people cackled and shouted around them.
It was only a few minutes later that Becca pranced over to them, a warm blush in her cheeks from the alcohol. She wedged herself into the small space between Audrey and Dean, slinging her arms around both their shoulders.
“I have a serious issue with you both,” she declared.
“Oh?” Dean raised an eyebrow at her, a face Audrey was used to seeing on Becca. The two of them really looked quite similar, with their heart-shaped faces, green eyes, and chestnut hair. If Dean were a girl, Audrey imagined they’d look uncannily similar for fraternal twins.
“Yes! You’re congregating here like a couple of mollusks. Or like, some other thing that stays in its shell and doesn’t move or talk.” She squeezed herself from in between them and tried to pull Audrey up with her. “Come on, Audrey, you know zoning out on the couch when I bring you to parties makes me whine.” She made her voice especially plaintive, so Audrey allowed herself to be uprooted from the couch.
“Deeeaan. You too, please?” Becca pleaded, grabbing at him with her other hand and making a big show of pulling him off the couch. Dean tried to let go of her and get up by himself, seeming a bit embarrassed by the people watching, but she didn’t let him. “Now look,” she said, holding Audrey’s and Dean’s hands in each of hers. “It’d be like pulling teeth to get you two to talk to anyone else, so at the very least I demand you talk to each other for awhile before one or both of you find an excuse to bail.”
And with that, she mashed the two hands together, Audrey’s in Dean’s, spun on her heel, and darted off in search of livelier company.
Audrey looked down at the hands, and hesitated in spite of her instinct to pull away. When Dean didn’t pull his away either, she glanced at his face. He was looking down at the hands, too. He bit his lip, and his brow was furrowed.
Audrey moved her fingers slightly, so they fit nicer in his.